Recently I read with amusement about Cadence terminating membership of other EDA vendors in their Connections program.
As much as it is every business' prerogative to decide who they should partner with, it is quite disturbing to analyze the implication of such an "eviction" action. Is this an act of bullying by a vendor in the industry that appears to be shrinking rapidly? Perhaps an act of desperation to preserve control over the market share? Maybe they are correcting serious weaknesses that have been exposed by the so-called partners? Is it an act of confusion in a skipper-less ship? Or is it indeed an alignment of new business strategy with the limited resources available to support such a program?
The motivation for a partnership program in any company is to better serve the customers beyond one's ability. Although true in every industry, let's stick to EDA vendors and chip designers to understand this better. Chip designers need design implementation, verification and analysis tools; they need various IP cores, standard cell and I/O libraries, memory compilers; they also need design services, foundry services and many more "back-end" functions to manage the production side of their hard work.
There is no single supplier to chip designers who meets all the requirements. Even when the best design implementation tools come from one vendor, verification tools are provided by another vendor and IP is delivered by multiple other vendors. Every design team has a "hodge-podge" of tools, IP and other environment helpers to make the whole flow tick. When something goes wrong, two or more vendors must work together to help the design team. Hence, the need for interoperability, reference flows, cooperation and partnership program.
For large vendors, such a program is also an excellent way of influencing smaller vendors. If one tool is feeding data into another tool, one can use a proprietary or a standard format for data exchange; or, one can use an API for tighter integration. It is much better to grow the ecosystem so the entire user base grows with it. For most us, that means working with open standards and actively promoting interoperability rather than pushing proprietary formats. We compete on superior algorithms, tool implementation, ease-of-use, and customer support; not by closing doors on others and protecting our turf through proprietary barriers.
"Co-opetition," far beyond healthy competition, grows the entire industry and creates win-win-win for partners and mutual customers. It requires a mindset and a long-term management commitment. Short-term views and protective behaviors are doomed to fail. We don't have to go far to see how leaders in similar industries are behaving; TSMC announced its OIP program with a sound win-win-win proposition earlier this year. This is what differentiates winners from losers.
For full disclosure, even though Magma was officially a member of the said partnership program, Magma was not allowed to take advantage of the real benefits. A large number of whimsical barriers were erecteddemands of competitive information, for examplethat are impossible to overcome. Since it was a de facto "no relationship," it makes no difference to Magma that it has been "kicked-out" of the program.
Yatin Trivedi is the senior director for strategic industry alliances at Magma Design Automation Inc. The views expressed in this article are his, and do not reflect those of Magma Design Automation Inc.